Pencarrow House was built in 1765, by Sir John Molesworth, the 4th baronet. In 1771 Sir John Molesworth co-founded the Sir John Molesworth & Company banking house, which eventually became part of Lloyds Bank. His descendants, the Molesworth St Aubyn family, own and live in the house today.
It was substantially altered one hundred years later by the 8th baronet. Sir William Molesworth was connected with the building of the Wadebridge to Bodmin railway in 1831, built to convey lime rich sea sand from the Padstow to farms further inland.
Pencarrow House is reached via a long shaded drive, a mile long, which passes through an ancient British encampment, and is flanked by huge rhododendrons, blue hydrangeas and specimen conifers.
11 rooms are open to the public.
The Music Room is has a piano at which Sir Arthur Sullivan - of Gilbert and Sullivan fame - composed the music for Iolanthe in 1882. Sullivan was a friend of the St Aubyn family and visited the house frequently. Gilbert also visited with his wife at the invitation of Lady Andalusia Molesworth, wife of the 8th baronet who had been trained as a classical singer. Costumes used in the first performance of Iolanthe are on display upstairs. The Music Room also has a rococo ceiling, depicting the four seasons, and fine mouldings of birds, fruit and flowers decorating the panelling.
The Dining Room has a number of family portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds. These include Sir John Molesworth. There are 3 portraits of the 5th baronet, who was Reynold's patron. The suite in the Drawing Room is covered with Chinese silk captured from a Spanish treasure ship in 1762.
The Inner Hall has two large paintings by Samuel Scott of the Tower and Bridge at London signed and dated 1755. Classical statues stand ornamentally in the Hall with a variety of amusing headgear, including a classical Roman bust wearing a gentleman's top hat. Also on display is a large 18th century Chinese porcelain bowl, commissioned to portray a fox hunting scene, but the Chinese artisans knew nothing of European dress nor custom, so the hunters are shown in Chinese dress, and there is no fox to be seen. A picture of King Charles I,at his trial, hangs on the upper staircase wall: the artist, Edward Bower, is said to have attended the trial to make sketches of the King.
The Boudoir, the sitting room of the lady of the house, and looks south over the Italian Garden.
The Pink Bedroom contains a George IV four-poster bed. Of the numerous family portraits in the bedroom, one of particular interest is the self-portrait of Catherine St. Aubyn, a talented pupil of the Cornish artist John Opie.
The 50 acres of Grade II* listed gardens that surround the house include the Italian Garden, lawns with specimen trees, woodland walks and lots of flowering plants and shrubs. A point of interest along the woodland paths is the Celtic Cross, moss-covered and mysterious. Further along is the American Pond, a lovely pool amid the woodland greenery.
The monkey puzzle tree got its name here, when Charles Austin, a parliamentary lawyer, stayed in 1834 and when he saw the 'Araucaria imbricata' he said, "That tree would puzzle a monkey", and the name has remained since.
Pencarrow House Pencarrow House
Historic House Cornwall Map
The hotel to stay at when visiting Cornwall is Corisande Manor Hotel, Cornwall find out more about it